Stanglwirt the green pioneer
The philosophy of the Stanglwirt's Balthasar Hauser is both simple and logical. "Use what's there," is one of his favourite mottos. And what he means by this is only using natural materials from the surrounding area to implement all his ideas. Because this is the only way to guarantee an authentic holiday experience for the guests staying at the hotel.
To ensure that his children and grandchildren are also able to make use of "what's there", the earth's resources - in other words the environment - must be protected. So the Stanglwirt became a green pioneer, with the first biomass thermal power generator in an Austrian hotel, exclusively solid-wood Arolla pine furniture and natural materials in the rooms and suites, food produced from the Stanglwirt's own organic farm and the use of wood bricks bonded using lime mortar instead of cement to name but a few examples. Not only do the vast Wellness and Spa adventure worlds get their energy from the hotel's own sources, but heat pumps are used to extract energy for heating from the natural warmth of the water.
Thomas Kaissl, Head of Corporate Partnerships at the WWF, also agrees that "The Stanglwirt is a role model for sustainability". The WWF first encountered the five-star eco-hotel in the 1990s "when we were able to prevent the drainage of a moor together with the Hauser family". Now the two of them want to go one step further. The Stanglwirt is forming its own environmental group to develop ideas, discuss them with the WWF, and find creative ways to implement them. "This group isn't just a management body, as all employees are invited to join," explains Kaissl.
They have already come up with some highly promising ideas. Food waste and climate protection have emerged as the first core themes of the cooperation. "The topic of food waste is also a priority at the Stanglwirt. An afternoon buffet is no longer served, because so much food gets thrown away for no reason." Another step towards solving this issue is the strict selection of suppliers. In addition to products from the hotel's own organic farm, produce is sourced largely from local suppliers. Furthermore, Stanglwirt head chef Thomas Ritzer has even been certified as a "Green Chef".
The Stanglwirt is also looking for ways to save energy. Kaissl: "Developing witty, creative ideas that get guests involved in the energy-saving process is the key." One such idea is to display how much energy has been generated on guests' bikes during a spin class – and what this energy could be used for. Kaissl: "I think it's important for guests to see how long you would need to spend working out on a bike, just to generate enough energy to power a hairdryer, for instance."
According to junior director Maria Hauser-Lederer, it is also important to take a light-hearted approach to raising environmental concerns: "We don't want to lecture or pester our guests. It is instead an invitation to join us on the path to nature conservation." One way to convince people is during the themed environment week expected to take place in May.
Maria Hauser-Lederer: "Together with the WWF, our aim is to illustrate key environmental protection issues during this week." Presentations and workshops will be held by WWF experts, and the Stanglwirt could become the stage for public discussions on these issues.
The number of vegetarian dishes served in the restaurant will be increased and the CO2 footprint of meals will be shown. Even the bar will be illuminated in the evening by candlelight only. "We are demonstrating that nature conservation has nothing to do with sacrifice; it actually makes life more enjoyable," says the Stanglwirt junior director.
Further reduction of the already low CO2 emissions is also at the heart of the agenda between the Stanglwirt hotel and WWF. "We compensate for the remaining CO2 still being generated by us by providing valuable support to causes such as the "Rainforest of the Austrians" in Costa Rica – a fantastic sustainable project being implemented by the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences." A goal that the WWF actively encourages too. "The Stanglwirt hotel is an exemplary business, whose ideas are being shared throughout the world by its many regular guests from around the world." It's a great feeling knowing that you are contributing towards making the world a better place simply by staying at the Stanglwirt.